I lost my father Wednesday to terminal liver disease. It wasn't an easy thing to go through, I had to pack the family up from Hawaii to come back to Massachusetts for it. Then Saturday came and there was the Nationwide race at Loudon. I just became a NASCAR fan about two years ago, but I've been watching Kyle Bush race long before that, mostly because of a cranky grandmother of a five year old boy. Long story, forget about it. Bottom line, watching Kyle Bush beat Joey Lagano Saturday in New Hampshire was a great distraction from what I've been going through the last four days. Then I thought about it...
The last thing my father and I did was watch the Red Sox beat the Nationals 11 - 3 Wednesday morning. It was a repeat of the previous nights game but it was shown on NESN and my father's always liked the Red Sox. He was in a coma so he didn't see any of the game, and I don't know how much he even heard, but as far as I'm concerned that's the last thing my father and I will share together. It's not just that I'm a sports fan, I was raised, by my father, as a sports fan.
My father has never had it easy. He was 18 when I was born, I've got a picture of the two of us playing some hockey game together back in 1972 and he's wearing, of course, a Bruins hat. For those of you who don't follow hockey much or who don't pay attention to sports before 1980-something, the Bruins were winning Stanley Cups in 1970 and 1972. So there he was, a 20 year old father of a 2 year old son playing a hockey game. Through that, the layoff from general motors in Framingham in the early 1990's, the divorce of my mother, and the diagnosis of liver disease, my father's always been a sports fan.
From the time I can remember I was cursed, or blessed, with Boston's Big Four. The Bruins, Celtics, Patriots and Red Sox were a constant in my father's house. I can remember the Bruins on TV while the Celtics were on the radio. You know why this is important? Because sports, even today, are just as much a distraction for us as ther were 38 years ago when I first got drug into this mess.
Through it all, the steroids era of baseball, the "gimme mine" salary cap era of football, the labor strikes and owner lockouts, sports have always been there as a distraction. When the Patriots won the Super Bowl in 2001, unless you were from St. Louis, you wanted New England to win because of the war. It was your distraction. No matter how bad things are with the economy, or foreign policy, or whether you lost your job, or your father just passed away, sports are still there for you to lose yourself, even if it's just for a day, or even a minute, in the Nationwide points standings, or Brad Penny's five and change innings of work before the Red Sox bats just came alive, and that's just the way it is.
Complain all you want when things are good. Complain about exhorbitant salaries and ridiculous ticket prices. When your day is miserable and you need that second to just relax and forget about your day, there's a sports channel somewhere waiting for you.